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HealthRobotics

Medical Cargo Drones in Public Health

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International health organizations, governments, major donors, non-governmental organizations and companies are increasingly looking to use cargo drones to improve public health services. So what does it actually take to run cargo drone deliveries for public health?

Far more than most realize.

Participants in this course will learn everything they need to know to design, implement, evaluate and partner on successful medical cargo drone projects. The course cuts through the hype and unpacks many of the assumptions that currently drive the discourse in the cargo drone space. As such, the course provides an objective, empirical and candid overview of the current state of cargo drones in health. A certificate of completion will be awarded to participants who successfully complete the course. This certificate will be signed by MIT, University of Pennsylvania and WeRobotics.

Please see the course syllabus for a detailed overview of the topics and issues that participants will become well versed in. To get the most out of this self-paced course, we recommend that participants dedicate up to 12 hours in total. That said, the course can also be completed within 8 hours. To view the complete course description, please visit our website here.

To apply for a scholarship, please click here. Members of Flying Labs must also apply for a scholarship to gain free access. Successful applicants will receive an access code to enroll.


Your Instructor


Dr. Patrick Meier
Dr. Patrick Meier

Dr. Patrick Meier serves as Executive Director of WeRobotics, a Swiss organization that accelerates positive social change by localizing appropriate robotics solutions. His responsibilities are the deployment of mapping and cargo drones for humanitarian aid and public health projects across the organization's growing network of Flying Labs in Asia, Africa and Latin America. These local action labs are run entirely by local professionals who are trained, equipped and supported by WeRobotics to rapidly deploy drones in a wide range of humanitarian and development contexts.

As Executive Director of WeRobotics, Patrick spearheaded the development of coordination mechanisms for the safe and rapid deployment of drones in disaster response on behalf of the World Food Program (WFP), which hired WeRobotics for this purpose. The project included the design and implementation of hands-on, professional workshops on the use of drones in humanitarian action and also comprised live disaster response simulations with key national and local stakeholders in Peru, Dominican Republic, Myanmar and Mozambique. Patrick also spearheaded similar workshops and trainings for UNICEF. In addition, Patrick designed and spearheaded WeRobotics’ Open AI Challenge, which focuses on the application of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to automate the analysis of aerial imagery of disaster areas.

Patrick draws on more than 15 years of professional experience in humanitarian technology projects with international aid and development organizations in dozens of countries around the world to lead the work of WeRobotics. This includes spearheading multiple humanitarian drone missions for the United Nations, Red Cross and the World Bank. Patrick also co-authored the most comprehensive report available on the topic, “Drones in Humanitarian Action: A Guide to the Use of Airborne Systems in Humanitarian Crises," and published the widely-praised book Digital Humanitarians. In addition, he authored the report “Humanitarian UAV Missions: Towards Best Practices” and wrote the chapter on Humanitarian UAVs in “Drones & Aerial Observation,” an important Primer by the New America Foundation.

Prior to WeRobotics, Patrick founded the International Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators.org), the largest, global community of practice dedicated to the safe, responsible and effective use of drones in a wide range of aid and development contexts. UAViators includes over 3,000 members in more 120 countries. In this capacity as Founder, Patrick spearheaded the development of the International Humanitarian UAV Code of Conduct (UAVCode.org) in collaboration with more than 60 aid and development organizations.

Prior to WeRobotics, Patrick also directed Harvard’s Program on Crisis Mapping and served as Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi, an African organization ranked by MIT as one of the world’s most innovative companies. He also prototyped next generation humanitarian technologies at QCRI -- an advanced computing research institute -- and co-founded the Digital Humanitarian Network with the United Nations.

Patrick has held fellowships at MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Rockefeller Foundation and National Geographic and has given over 200 talks in more than 20 countries including TEDx’s. His work is featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Forbes & Times Magazines, Wired and Nature amongst others. He has a PhD from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and MA from Columbia University. Patrick was born and raised in Côte d'Ivoire and Kenya.


Class Curriculum


  Module 2 - Why Use Drones in Public Health
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  Module 4 - Use Cases and Stability of Samples
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  Module 10 - The Way Forward
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Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish. While participants may join the course at any time, they must successfully complete the course within 3 months to receive a certificate of completion.
How much time should I allocate to take the course?
To get the most out of the course, participants should plan to dedicate up to 12 hours in total, comprising video presentations, weekly online discussions, monthly calls (optional), 3 short assignments and recommended readings (optional). That said, the course can also be completed within 8 hours.
How do I complete the course?
The course is led by video presentations and facilitated on a weekly basis by WeRobotics and guest experts through a dedicated online forum. Participants will also have the option of joining monthly calls with WeRobotics and guests. Recommended readings are provided and are optional. Participants will need to follow the video presentations, participate in the online forum and complete 3 short assignments in order to successfully complete the course.
Do I have to be an expert in drones to take the course?
The course does not require prior knowledge of cargo drones or expertise in public health. Ideal participants want the very latest insights, lessons learned and best practices on how to implement, enable and/or evaluate the safe, responsible and effective use of medical cargo drones for public health.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us via email academy@werobotics.org.
Are scholarships available for the course?
Yes, please read the information at the top of this page. Scholarships are specifically geared towards women from developing countries but all are encouraged to apply.

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